Nineteen (19) overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia were apprehended by authorities in a raid undertaken jointly by Mottawa police and Jawasat, local immigration police, in Dammam area last Friday (March 30), according to a chapter of Migrante in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
On a letter dated April 3, 2012 sent to PH labor attaché Adam Musa, Marcial Abay Jr., Migrante-Eastern region case officer, said that the 19 OFWs were currently detained in Dammam Central jail. Ten of the 19 were women with children and 1 is pregnant.
As per initial information by Migrante in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia, those who were nabbed are OFWs Willie Formalejo, Roberto Bautista, Hermoso Morales, Teodorico Orlino, Adelino Oroy, Michael Quiliza, Rey Domingo, Ronaldo Go, Genaro Valenzuela, Edna Yuson (pregnant), Aida Bautista, Maribel Jimena, Dolores Reno, Diane Cunado, Luz Palo, Apple Joy Constantino, Baby Jehad, Jheny Cayabo, Jennifer Cortiz and children.
“We have been informed that until now there’s no embassy or any RP government officials visited them in jail,” Abay stated on his letter sent to Labor Attache Adam Musa.
Migrante-Saudi Arabia presses PH embassy officials to provide legal assistance by immediately deploying its legal team for a jail visitation and to assist the nabbed undocumented OFWs by working for their repatriation.
Meanwhile, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said the number of undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia is swelling reaching to an estimated number ranging from 6,000 to 8,000.
“This 8,000 conservative estimate of undocumented OFWs are in Saudi Arabia alone. We are quite sure that in other mid-east countries such as Kuwait, UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, there could be thousands more are undocumented,” Monterona said.
He added that daily Migrante officers in the Kingdom are receiving three to 5 requests for assistance and repatriation from undocumented OFWs.
Monterona noted that most of the undocumented OFWs were forced to run away from their employers after being subjected to abuses and labor malpractices such as non-payment of salaries, working more than 8-hours, no day off, no overtime pay, among other reasons aside from those who were deployed illegally.
“Despite the surge in the numbers of undocumented OFWs, not only in the Middle East but also in other part of the world, there is no govt. program for their legalization, providing them security and eventual repatriation undertaken by the present Aquino administration just like the previous administrations,” Monterona lamented.
“The deplorable plight of thousands of undocumented OFWs is supposed to be one of the major concerns of the government but notably there is no program currently undertaken by the Aquino administration,” Monterona ended. # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator